In this essay KelvinBeckett argues that Richard Peters's major work on education, Ethics and Education, belongs on a short list of important texts we can all share. He argues this not because of the place it has in the history of philosophy of education, as important as that is, but because of the contribution it can still make to the future of the discipline. The limitations of Peters's analysis of the concept of education in his chapter on (...) “Criteria of Education” are well known. In the chapter on “Education as Initiation,” however, Peters offered a synthetic sketch of education that, Beckett argues, points us toward a more comprehensive definition of education, one which, he maintains, can be accepted by all philosophers, regardless of the tradition they work in. (shrink)
In this article, I argue that Paulo Freire’s liberatory conception of education is interesting, challenging, even transforming because central to it are important aspects of education which other philosophers marginalise. I also argue that Freire’s critics are right when they claim that he paid insufficient attention to another important aspect of education. Finally, I argue for a conception of education which takes account of the strengths and at the same time overcomes the limitations of Freire’s liberatory conception.
John Dewey adopted a child-centered point of view to illuminate aspects of education he believed teacher-centered educators were neglecting, but he did so self-consciously and self-critically, because he also believed that ‘a new order of conceptions leading to new modes of practice’ was needed. Dewey introduced his new conceptions in The Child and the Curriculum and later and more fully in Democracy and Education. Teachers at his Laboratory School in Chicago developed the new modes of practice. In this article, I (...) explore Dewey’s new conception of education and compare it with the apparently opposed views of R. S. Peters and Paulo Freire. In doing so, I show that, despite their criticisms of Dewey, whether explicit or implicit, these influential philosophers, representing quite different traditions in philosophy of education were in substantial agreement with him. I also show that, despite our own differences, as important as they are, seeing teachers and learners at work in a rapidly changing society, now on a global scale, in classrooms which are also changing, driven largely by new technologies, the conception of education Dewey, Peters, and Freire developed can provide us with the foundation we need to understand the changing teacher–learner relationship and the purposes their shared activities serve. (shrink)
In 1884 Sir William Thomson (later Lord Kelvin) delivered a significant series of lectures on physics at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. This book presents the twenty lectures in their original form for the first time.
The Irish writer and Nobel Prize winner, Samuel Beckett, assembled for himself a history of western philosophy during the 1930s, just at the point at which his first novel, Murphy, was coming together. The 'Philosophy Notes', together with related notes taken at that time about St. Augustine, thereafter provided Beckett with a store of knowledge, but also with phrases and images, which he took up in the major work that won him international and enduring fame, from the dramas (...) Waiting for Godot and Endgame, through to the late prose works Worstward Ho and Stirrings Still. This edition presents, for the first time, Beckett's full 'Philosophy Notes', which constitute his most extensive unpublished text. The Notes display Beckett's own interests and emphases within the history of western philosophy, from the pre-Socratic Greeks onwards, together with more familiar figures in the study of his work, such as Descartes, Leibnitz, and Geulincx. Here we see Beckett's original thoughts on all of these figures for the first time. The Notes also, tellingly and often comically, display Beckett's impatience with many aspects of philosophy, such as its anthropological or anthropomorphic bias, or the idealism of the Enlightenment and Kant. The Edition contains an extensive Introduction, outlining the origin of Beckett's Notes, his major sources and approach to them, the historical context for his view of philosophy, and the significance of Beckett's 'Philosophy Notes' within his mature writings. The many footnotes then suggest ways in which particular aspects of the philosophy narrated here by Beckett suggest fresh insights into those later writings-the images, but also the creative impulses, behind some of his most famous texts. This Edition, further, raises larger questions about, and perspectives upon, the relation between philosophy and literature in the twentieth century and beyond."--Back cover. (shrink)
My argument will be that our understanding of human beings, which is what I take the Christian doctrine of man to be concerned with, will benefit considerably from an examination of two different but related clusters of human attitudes which can be found respectively under the headings ‘optimism’ and ‘pessimism’. There are many pitfalls in the way of such an enterprise, and occasionally some prejudices to be overcome. For example L. E. Loemker in the relevant articles in the Encyclopedia of (...) Philosophy concludes a fairly lengthy discussion with the rather terminal judgement. (shrink)
It is of course true that the articulation of religious and theological views depends upon and often masks philosophical presuppositions. For example, those who quote with approval Anselm's ‘credo ut intelligam’, ‘I believe so that I may understand’, seldom follow the good example set by Anselm, and make explicit, as Anselm does in the following sentence, the fact that this principle rests upon a further principle: ‘For I believe this also, that “unless I believe, I shall not understand”’ . This (...) paper is an attempt to track down and expose one very pervasive set of views about the nature of experience which is implicit in a wide range of religious and theological claims. (shrink)
In the last ten years or so there has been some lively discussion of the questions of immortality and resurrection. Within the Christian tradition there has been debate at theological and exegetical level over the relative merits of belief in the immortality of the soul, and belief in the resurrection of the dead as an account of life after death. Further to this, however, there has been the suggestion that there may be good philosophical reasons for preferring the latter to (...) the former. It is just this contention which I propose to discuss. (shrink)
Recent writing on the idea of a form of life has tended to be critical of the use made of this notion by writers such as Peter Winch, D. Z. Phillips and Norman Malcolm. Rightly or wrongly these writers have been regarded as meaning by ‘a form of life’, something like ‘a way or style of life’, and recent explicatory work on the notion has largely tended to discount this as a plausible interpretation of what Wittgenstein meant in his use (...) of the expression. The intention of this paper is not that of direct intervention in this particular dispute, though the conclusions drawn, if correct, would have some bearing on it. The intention is rather to develop, in order to make use of it, the idea of a form of life within the context of a number of philosophical difficulties. I should certainly claim to be drawing upon the remarks made by Wittgenstein in his own use of the expression: but I should not claim to be expounding Wittgenstein. Hence I do not wish to enter into the disputes referred to above about what precisely Wittgenstein meant by the expression, though again, what I say, if not wholly misguided, should have some bearing on these disputes. (shrink)
In this article I shall concern myself with the question ‘Is some type of justification required in order for belief in God to be rational?’ Many philosophers and theologians in the past would have responded affirmatively to this question. However, in our own day, there are those who maintain that natural theology in any form is not necessary. This is because of the rise of a different understanding of the nature of religious belief. Unlike what most people in the past (...) thought, religious belief is not in any sense arrived at or inferred on the basis of other known propositions. On the contrary, belief in God is taken to be as basic as a person's belief in the existence of himself, of the chair in which he is sitting, or the past. The old view that there must be a justification of religious belief, whether known or unknown, is held to be mistaken. One of the most outspoken advocates of this view is Alvin Plantinga. According to Plantinga the mature theist ought not to accept belief in God as a conclusion from other things he believes. Rather, he should accept it as basic, as a part of the bedrock of his noetic structure. ‘The mature theist commits himself to belief in God; this means that he accepts belief in God as basic.’. (shrink)
After a brief account of the problem of higher-order vagueness, and its seeming intractability, I explore what comes of the issue on a linguistic, contextualist account of vagueness. On the view in question, predicates like ‘borderline red’ and ‘determinately red’ are, or at least can be, vague, but they are different in kind from ‘red’. In particular, ‘borderline red’ and ‘determinately red’ are not colours. These predicates have linguistic components, and invoke notions like ‘competent user of the language’. On my (...) view, so-called ‘higher-order vagueness’ is actually ordinary, ﬁrst-order vagueness in different predicates. I explore the possibility that, nevertheless, a pernicious regress ensues. (shrink)
Thomson, Kelvin You might be surprised to learn that China, home of the much derided one-child policy, has a higher birth rate than Italy, home of the Vatican. This suggests Chinese families are quietly defying their political leaders and Italian families are quietly defying their religious ones. But the overall global picture is one of rapid population growth.
In Beckett and Poststructuralism, Anthony Uhlmann offers a reading of Beckett in relation to recent French philosophy, particularly the work of Foucault, Deleuze and Guattari, Levinas, and Derrida. Uhlmann offers a work of literary criticism that is also a piece of intellectual history, emphasising how Beckett develops a kind of critical thinking which differs from yet is just as powerful as that of philosophers who, along with Beckett, found themselves faced with sets of ethical problems which (...) were thrown into sharp relief in post-war France. Uhlmann explores the links between ethics and physical existence in Beckett, Foucault and Deleuze and Guattari, and between ethics and language in Beckett, Derrida, and Levinas, showing how post-war French philosophy was powerfully affected by Beckett's work. Literature is not reduced to philosophy or vice versa; rather Uhlmann considers how they interrelate and overlap, informing and deforming one another, and how both encounter history. (shrink)
The primary quantum mechanical equation of motion entails that measurements typically do not have determinate outcomes, but result in superpositions of all possible outcomes. Dynamical collapse theories (e.g. GRW) supplement this equation with a stochastic Gaussian collapse function, intended to collapse the superposition of outcomes into one outcome. But the Gaussian collapses are imperfect in a way that leaves the superpositions intact. This is the tails problem. There are several ways of making this problem more precise. But many authors dismiss (...) the problem without considering the more severe formulations. Here I distinguish four distinct tails problems. The first (bare tails problem) and second (structured tails problem) exist in the literature. I argue that while the first is a pseudo-problem, the second has not been adequately addressed. The third (multiverse tails problem) reformulates the second to account for recently discovered dynamical consequences of collapse. Finally the fourth (tails problem dilemma) shows that solving the third by replacing the Gaussian with a non-Gaussian collapse function introduces new conflict with relativity theory. (shrink)
We defend the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics against the objection that it cannot explain why measurement outcomes are predicted by the Born probability rule. We understand quantum probabilities in terms of an observer's self-location probabilities. We formulate a probability postulate for the MWI: the probability of self-location in a world with a given set of outcomes is the absolute square of that world's amplitude. We provide a proof of this postulate, which assumes the quantum formalism and two principles concerning (...) symmetry and locality. We also show how a structurally similar proof of the Born rule is available for collapse theories. We conclude by comparing our account to the recent account offered by Sebens and Carroll. (shrink)
Aristotle is the most influential philosopher of practice, and Knight's new book explores the continuing importance of Aristotelian philosophy. First, it examines the theoretical bases of what Aristotle said about ethical, political and productive activity. It then traces ideas of practice through such figures as St Paul, Luther, Hegel, Heidegger and recent Aristotelian philosophers, and evaluates Alasdair MacIntyre's contribution. Knight argues that, whereas Aristotle's own thought legitimated oppression, MacIntyre's revision of Aristotelianism separates ethical excellence from social elitism and justifies resistance. (...) With MacIntyre, Aristotelianism becomes revolutionary. MacIntyre's case for the Thomistic Aristotelian tradition originates in his attempt to elaborate a Marxist ethics informed by analytic philosophy. He analyses social practices in teleological terms, opposing them to capitalist institutions and arguing for the cooperative defence of our moral agency. In condensing these ideas, Knight advances a theoretical argument for the reformation of Aristotelianism and an ethical argument for social change. (shrink)
This article brings together Roland Barthes and Samuel Beckett into a dialogue devoid of hierarchy, with Jacques Lacan as mediator. Both writers were intent on escaping the sway of the image considered as formatted by meanings. For Barthes, the themes of love and photography point to the existence of unicity within the dispersal of meanings and the reality of loss. Rather than undoing the image like Barthes, Beckett starts from an inaugural absence of instituted reality: from an original (...) absence of any ‘that-has-been’, as expressed in the motif of the mask. Both authors locate vision within speech, and the alterity contained within the latter. (shrink)
Does consciousness collapse the quantum wave function? This idea was taken seriously by John von Neumann and Eugene Wigner but is now widely dismissed. We develop the idea by combining a mathematical theory of consciousness (integrated information theory) with an account of quantum collapse dynamics (continuous spontaneous localization). Simple versions of the theory are falsified by the quantum Zeno effect, but more complex versions remain compatible with empirical evidence. In principle, versions of the theory can be tested by experiments with (...) quantum computers. The upshot is not that consciousness-collapse interpretations are clearly correct, but that there is a research program here worth exploring. (shrink)
This article discusses the theological implications of Adorno’s writings on Beckett by specifically examining their constellative motifs of death, reconciliation and redemption. It addresses not only their content but also their form, suggesting a mutually stimulating relationship between the two as based both on a negative-dialectical approach and an inverse-theological trajectory. Focusing on Adorno’s discussion of Beckett’s oeuvre as a “metaphysical entity,” I argue that Adorno’s reading of Beckett is peculiar because it is inextricably tied to his (...) own critical-theological venture. The essay claims that Adorno’s reflections on Beckett contour, at their most basic level, meditations on theology in the age of its impossibility. (shrink)
Integrated information theory is a theory of consciousness that was originally formulated, and is standardly still expressed, in terms of controversial interpretations of its own ontological and epistemological basis. These form the orthodox interpretation of IIT. The orthodox epistemological interpretation is the axiomatic method, whereby IIT is ultimately derived from, justified by, and beholden to a set of phenomenological axioms. The orthodox ontological interpretation is panpsychism, according to which consciousness is fundamental, intrinsic, and pervasive. In this paper it is argued (...) that both components of the orthodox interpretation should be rejected. But IIT should not be rejected since an interpretation-neutral formulation is available. After explaining the neutral formulation, more plausible non-axiomatic epistemologies are defended. The neutral formulation is then shown to be consistent with various contemporary physicalist ontologies of consciousness, including the phenomenal concept strategy, representationalism, and even illusionism. Along the way, instructive connections between interpretations of IIT and interpretations of quantum mechanics are noted. (shrink)
Chimpanzee language studies have generated much heated controversy, as Roger Fouts can attest from firsthand experience. Perhaps this is because language is usually considered to be what truly distinguishes humans from apes. If chimps can indeed be taught the rudiments of language, then the difference between them and us is not as great as we might have thought. It is a matter of degree rather than kind, a continuity, and our species is not so special after all. The advantage of (...) this continuity thesis, as Fouts has emphasized, is that it conforms to the general tenets of evolutionary theory, and fits well with the evidence from paleontology and genetics that suggests that apes and humans are close cousins. It also .. (shrink)
Beckett often made use of images from the visual arts and readapted them, staging them in his plays, or using them in his fiction. Anthony Uhlmann sets out to explain how an image differs from other terms, like 'metaphor' or 'representation', and, in the process, to analyse Beckett's use of images borrowed from philosophy and aesthetics. This is the first study to carefully examine Beckett's thoughts on the image in his literary works and his extensive notes to (...) the philosopher Arnold Geulincx. Uhlmann considers how images might allow one kind of interaction between philosophy and literature, and how Beckett makes use of images which are borrowed from, or drawn into dialogue with, philosophical images from Geulincx, Berkeley, Bergson, and the ancient Stoics. Uhlmann's reading of Beckett's aesthetic and philosophical interests provides a revolutionary new reading of the importance of the image in his work. (shrink)
The many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics (MWI) states that the world we live in is just one among many parallel worlds. It is widely believed that because of this commitment to parallel worlds, the MWI violates common sense. Some go so far as to reject the MWI on this basis. This is despite its myriad of advantages to physics (e.g. consistency with relativity theory, mathematical simplicity, realism, determinism, etc.). Here, we make the case that common sense in fact favors (...) the MWI. We argue that causal explanations are commonsensical only when they are local causal explanations. We present several quantum mechanical experiments that seem to exhibit nonlocal “action at a distance”. Under the assumption that only one world exists, these experiments seem immune to local causal explanation. However, we show that the MWI, by taking all worlds together, can provide local causal explanations of the experiments. The MWI therefore restores common sense to physical explanation. (shrink)
Alasdair MacIntyre is one of the most controversial philosophers and social theorists of our time. He opposes liberalism and postmodernism with the teleological arguments of an updated Thomistic Aristotelianism. It is this tradition, he claims, which presents the best theory so far about the nature of rationality, morality, and politics. This is the first reader of MacIntyre's groundbreaking work. It includes extracts from and his own synopses of two famous books from the 1980s, After Virtue and Whose Justice? Which Rationality? (...) as well as the whole of several shorter works and two interviews. Together, these pieces constitute not only a representative collection of his work but also the most powerful and accessible presentation of his arguments yet available. The MacIntyre Reader concludes with Kelvin Knight 's clear, concise, and insightful overview of the development of MacIntyre's central ideas and how they have developed in his writings. Students will find this book a powerful and accessible introduction to one of the great thinkers of our time. "The publication of the new MacIntyre Reader--a fascinating anthology of his work from his Marxist beginnings to his Thomistic conclusions--provides an interesting opportunity for reconsidering the man's thought." --The Weekly Standard Kelvin Knight is Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of North London. (shrink)
The leading contemporary French philosopher Alain Badiou has been a lifelong devotee of Beckett's work. This ground-breaking study provides a full introduction to and critique of Badiou's philosophy, politics, ethics and aesthetics, and his interpretation of the Irish writer, as a basis for a major new reading of the Beckett corpus.
Stewart Shapiro's ambition in Vagueness in Context is to develop a comprehensive account of the meaning, function, and logic of vague terms in an idealized version of a natural language like English. It is a commonplace that the extensions of vague terms vary according to their context: a person can be tall with respect to male accountants and not tall (even short) with respect to professional basketball players. The key feature of Shapiro's account is that the extensions of vague (...) terms also vary in the course of conversations and that, in some cases, a competent speaker can go either way without sinning against the meaning of the words or the non-linguistic facts. As Shapiro sees it, vagueness is a linguistic phenomenon, due to the kinds of languages that humans speak; but vagueness is also due to the world we find ourselves in, as we try to communicate features of it to each other. (shrink)